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Thousands of California Guard soldiers won’t have to pay back $190 million in bonuses, Pentagon says

California National Guard (The National Guard/Flickr)
August 28, 2017

The Pentagon has said that more than 17,000 California National Guard soldiers will not have to pay back millions of dollars in enlistment bonuses or payments give in error between 2004 and 2010.

This is a huge relief for thousands of men and women who were told they would have to pay back the money.


The majority of the 17,485 soldiers who received bonuses and loan aid totaling more than $190 million will not have to pay it back, and will be refunded if they have already paid the money back, a Pentagon report has found.

The U.S. House and Senate Armed Services committees issued the report July 31, and it was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.


The California soldiers who signed up or re-enlisted between 2004 and 2010 were the victims of number inflation from recruiters. Recruiters offered a $15,000 cash or student repayment bonus to soldiers who weren’t eligible. It was revealed that the recruiters were boosting their own numbers.

Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter in October 2016 ordered the Defense Department to stop seeking repayment of enlistment bonuses that were handed out to thousands of soldiers.

The soldiers who were affected by the error were asked to pay back the enlistment bonuses, plus interest.

The California National Guard last year told soldiers they are not liable for the mistake made by administrators and lawmakers, and soldiers were encouraged to file a debt appeal.